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Take Cover, Ambush Up Ahead! - 94%

CHAIRTHROWER, February 25th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, High Roller Records

Lest ailing from paraskevidekatriaphobia, metalheads 'twixt here and Kronoberg County's double-umlaut dulcified Växjö have every reason to anticipate March's upcoming Friday the thirteenth, as veritable hat trick of killer new releases kicks off (the) Ides - at least, without "Mamuralia"; namely, both Sweden's Ambush and Greece's Dexter Ward's third album proper, alongsde egregiously awaited evening star, fellow Scandinavians' Wolf, with long-suffering eighth power-surge, as well as first in six years, coming on (lupine) pads of unambiguously received, albeit castigated, production, back in 2014...

...year which saw Ottawa parliament suffer first ever, however tragic and absurd, lone (deranged) gunman attack, in addition to Moncton nut-job incurring stiffest jail sentence since Canada abolished death-by-hanging, fifty years prior - life multiplied by five, with no possibility of parole for seventy-five years instead of par-for-the-remorse twenty-five - as comeuppance for engineering twisted and diabolical, heavily armed 'guet-apens' against New Brunswick RCMP.

Vexing, yet subtly relevant, (steel toe) shoe-horns excluded, insofar as bringing said well-established - and, hopefully, forever fuelled - acts up to speed and back in the limelight, there's no better time than now, particularly whence said object of sonic affectation i.e. rabid \m/ (dis)charge rocks to such perfunctorily high, upper deck tier as Ambush's hardily incepting, if not globally acclaimed, novenary full-length debut hazing from - you guessed it! - 2014, coolly titled Firestorm and featuring close to forty minutes of purely unadulterated, dyed-in-the-rule metal mania (available on compact gist and 12" vinyl). In effect, welcome home...and rest easy (in) knowing there ain't no sanitarium nearby. Besides, above rocket roaring, quantum leap score is far from dished out lightly.

Regardless, nary cyclonic combustion of turgid words renders justice to how much of a solidly compact, dynamic and ever-ready "classic" form(ul)ation Ambush represents. Instantaneously, from very beginning, ravishing jet-flame skipper of titular opener "Firestorm" delivers everything and more its volcanic caption implies, from the Boreal twin guitar pentacle's steadfastly hard-driving momentum and "full speed or no speed", detonative pedal-to-the-kettle pistonations inherent to wing clipping (and videographed) "Hellbound", "Don't Shoot (Let 'Em Burn)" - its gang choir malignantly educates my goat -"Heading East" (potentially preferred track, no-how, thanks to zippy split-fingered guitar riff/unforgettable power solo contributing immensely to overall mesmeric edge), and (poser) closer "Natural Born Killers", a massively meaty, anthem-ic heady thumper which fulfills wicked task of highlighting Oskar J.'s perfectly pitched, clear-as-a-Hell-bell, space elevating vox, themselves, entailing huge part of Ambush's lethal old-school flair.

Short of engaging crushing play-by-play, must spring knife-tongued mention of silver-studded, ambiguously undecided second fav vapor-trailer, "Close My Eyes", which, thanks to radically poised convection pace - rather preemptive of Desecrator's straight up (and) Judas Priest-ly "Night of Defilement", itself #2, literally & figuratively, next to furious soul raging introduction, "Possessed By Evil" - conjoined to lyrical premium, apports both nuance and coming-of-age catharsis, on top of all else: "I was looking for someone to break the fast forward living/You said we've all got the power to come home.../I closed my eyes/And dreamed away/To my darkest hour/To hide my shame away". (Word!)

On the whole, bass is actively discernible and pronounced, whilst atomically precise footloose drums stun in their (p)rattling, arduously kinetic, roundabout fulsomeness, sure to hit all the right nerve endings or synapses, genially stamped into molten ground. As stated in long-past Desecrator (sophomore) review, both melodically concomitant ax-slingers avoid outright lead wanker-y and/or show-gloating, opting rather to deliver super timely, not to mention maturely restrained, development, thus, permitting songs to breathe i.e. simply intensifying them as opposed to swamping in over(t)ly complex, tedious, debilitating manner.

In fact, whence hankering for Ambush - that is, anytime or whenever - oft favor Firestorm over admittedly sleeker successor, as each song rocks to the hilt. (Its 2015 offering minutely falls sho[r]t due to rather humdrum midpoint "South Street Brotherhood" - name of which invariably evokes musings of "Boys N' The Hood", circa 1991 - with preponderantly acknowledged low end deficiency, relative to bass.) To summarize, as well as put brakes on incessant praise-loop, may the Kreator smote me blackened and charred, with zero chair to comfortably seize, should any one viscerally gripping cut fail to make inroads across thine's brain-pan! ("The grade" in plain English.)

"Snowflakes are falling from wicked skies
Embracing our tormented flesh
North winds are screaming as brothers fall
Engulfed by salvation of death

Riding through the fog
Hundred thousand men
One for all!"

THIS is why I love metal! - 90%

mjollnir, May 26th, 2014

So traditional heavy metal is making a come back. Yeah, I know, it never left. What makes this new crop of heavy metal bands different is that fact that they not only is their music reminiscent of the early 80s but he finished products actually sound like they were produced in 1984. Sweden has produced two of my favorite bands of this movement, Enforcer and Screamer. Now we can add Ambush to that list of Swedish bands that take me back to my youth when heavy metal was taking form creating it's own identity and not just an offshoot of hard rock. This album reminds me of my high school days and makes me remember what made me fall in love with heavy metal to begin with.

The band was formed in 2013 and has released their debut album called Firestorm and they could not have picked a better title because this is truly a firestorm of balls to the wall traditional heavy metal. The band's influences are easy to see as they take from Judas Priest and Accept all the while adding their own identity. Yeah, there are some major cliches here but that's the beauty of it all. They come out firing from both barrels with the title track. A fast headbanging track that reminds me of both of the aforementioned bands. At times the vocalist has an old Halford vibe to him but it's not a ripoff (*cough Ralf Scheepers cough*). The song is loaded with trad metal riffs and hooks with a chorus that is catchy all the while adding in the "gang" backing vocals. The solos are what you would expect, blazing and somewhat technical. This is your typical heavy metal album opener and it just takes me back. This is heavy fucking metal at it's finest. No, there is nothing original or earth shattering going on here just well written heavy metal songs that take me back to the old days.

These guys write good catchy songs and I guess that's what makes them stand out from other bands that are emerging doing the same things these days. "Hellbound" is another catchy song that sees vocalist Oskar Jacobsson going in Halford territory and doing it well. He can hit some serious high notes. A mid paced number, the song itself kinda reminds of an old Saxon song. In contrast, the next song, "Don't Shoot (Let 'Em Burn)," is almost a speed metal song that is riff laden with soaring vocals and another amazing solo. The guitar work on this album is absolutely brilliant. Not overly technical or with too much wankery going on but instead used to complement the song. The main riff as well as the "gang" vocals in the chorus of "Molotov Cocktail" reminds me so much of Accept but with enough of it's own identity to be a song that actually pays homage to their influences. And for them to be able to do that but at the same time write songs that are catchy as fuck makes this album that much more enjoyable. The chorus and backing vocals on "Natural Born Killers" is actually worth getting this album in and of itself! Another song where everything just fits together perfectly.

I can listen to this album over and over again all the while reminiscing about the old days. Even the album's length is a throwback being only thirty-seven and a half minutes, about the average time for any metal album from 30 years ago. This band and album is much more than a throw back. Any band can be a throw back band but to do it while creating songs that are good and catchy is a sign of a band that is serious about heavy metal. Everything I love about metal is packaged in this album. This is a young band that is full of energy and I'm excited to see what they bring to the table in the future. If you love heavy metal at all then this album is essential.